How Martin Luther Would Solve Karl Barth’s Mistress Problem

As a follow-up to my earlier post, an interesting parallel to Barth’s situation, with Luther’s solution, from The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observers and Participants:

None the less the Lutheran territories suffered an incisive setback, foreshadowing worse things to come.  In 1540 the political bulwark of Protestantism, Langrave Philipp of Hesse, became involved in a public scandal in which the theological bulwark of Protestantism, Martin Luther, was more than an innocent bystander.  The cause célèbre was Philipp’s bigamy and the fact that Luther had counselled him into it.  Philipp, like many other crowned head, was dynastically married to a woman he did not love, which did not prevent him, however, from having ten children by her.  The woman he loved made marriage the prerequisite of other considerations.  Divorce seemed out of the question, but not, surprisingly enough, bigamy.  Martin Luther, approached in the matter, discovered that in the Old Testament polygamy evidently had been practised without divine disapproval and counselled Philipp into a second, albeit secret, marriage.  Before long the secret was out–one might suggest that too many women were in on it!  Luther counselled ‘a good, strong lie for the good of the Christian Church’ in order to clear the air, but Philipp now decided that lying was a sin.  He was furthermore concerned about losing the good grace of the Emperor.  After all, he had broken the accepted moral and criminal code, for which the Emperor could hold him responsible.  Charles assured him of his benevolence and Philipp agreed, in turn,to prevent the inclusion of European powers in the League of Schmalkald. (p. 377)

Wonder if Barth thought about this…

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